Blog birthday giveaway!

There's something about Mill Road...I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but it’s now been over a year since ‘There’s something about Mill Road’ entered the blogosphere! It started as a hobby that I hoped a few people might read from time to time, but I have been – and continue to be – amazed by just how much interest there has been in my ramblings, not just from the Mill Road area itself and Cambridge, but across the UK and even beyond.

My first post was about, erm, chocolate; and since then I’ve written about all sorts of Mill Road related things – from events, books and recipes to community projects, photography and the particularly popular topic of our local pubs. Thank you so much to everyone who has read any of my posts, been following me on Twitter or who keeps up to date via my Facebook page – there wouldn’t be much point without you! As a thank you to all you lovely people I wanted to offer the chance to win a lovely Mill Road prize, so I’ve decided to do a special giveaway. Those of you who have been following the blog may have noticed my penchant for pubs, food and art, so I thought what better than a prize combining all three…

Earl of BeaconsfieldSince the Earl of Beaconsfield changed hands last year, the pub has been transformed into the place to be for music, with weekly events including the Monday night Open Mic sessions and regular Saturday night gigs – tomorrow you can catch the Watertight Jazz group and on 17th August following on from the Great Eastern Street Party, you can catch The Great Eastern Street Preachers. They have successfully carried on the tradition of serving the best pint of Guinness in Cambridge (which you’ll be pleased to hear I’ve tested and personally verified, all in the name of research…!) and also now do sumptuous stone-baked pizzas. Susie & Matt at the Beaconsfield have very kindly offered £30 of vouchers for the giveaway!

FrameworksFrameworks have been catering to the picture framing needs of Cambridge artists and art lovers for over twenty years and moved to their Mill Road home back in 2011, but what may be less well known is that they offer free mountboard to local school and charity groups. I love that every two weeks there’s a new exhibition to look at in their window – one of my favourites has been food artist Jimi Kazak – and during the Romsey Art Festival (which runs until 17th August) you can see the work of local artist Sarah Blake. The lovely chaps at Frameworks have offered a £20 voucher for the giveaway!

ONE LUCKY PERSON WILL WIN:
2 x £10 vouchers for the Earl of Beaconsfield, each voucher entitling the recipient to one of their delicious stone-baked pizzas plus a pint/glass of wine/soft drink AND
1 x £20 voucher for Frameworks, for the recipient to spend at their picture framing shop on Mill Road.

THERE WILL ALSO BE A RUNNER-UP PRIZE OF:
– A £10 voucher for the Earl of Beaconsfield, entitling the recipient to a stone-baked pizza and drink.

To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is one of the following:
1. Subscribe to this blog (which means you’ll be the first to hear about new blog posts, as you’ll receive a notification email) before the closing date, by entering your email address in the ‘Follow this blog’ section, near the top right of the home page. To let me know that you want this to count as your entry into the competition (or if you’re already following the blog) please add a comment at the bottom of this blog post (or instead of a comment you can send an email to theressomethingaboutmillroad@hotmail.co.uk) by the closing date.
OR
2. Follow me on Twitter and retweet any of my Twitter posts marked #MillRoadGiveaway – only applies to posts on/before 21st August (you can retweet more than one post if you like, but it will only count as one entry for the draw).
OR
3. If you want to double your chances you can do both of the above! 🙂

So if you’ve acquired some art at the Romsey Art Festival and need to get it framed, or you’re looking for the perfect excuse to pop to the pub – why not enter the giveaway. Good luck! 🙂

Rules: This giveaway is open to UK residents only and the winners will be independently drawn at random from all those who have completed step 1, 2 or 3 above by the closing date. Entry is free. Automated entries not accepted. The closing date is Wednesday 21st August at 11:59pm. The draw will take place within seven days of the closing date. When notified of their win, the prize winners will need to provide a UK postal address for their prizes to be sent to. In the event of being unable to contact the winner/s within fourteen days of the draw, another winner/s will be drawn. By entering the draw, entrants agree that in the event of them winning the competition their name and city/town can be published on this blog (and associated accounts on Twitter and Facebook).

Best indie pub

pint of beerLocal MP Julian Huppert launched his Discovering Cambridge competition in January, in order to support the independent shops and businesses we have here in Cambridge. People nominate their favourite in a different category throughout each month, with a winner announced at the end of the month. There will also be an over all winner announced at the Mill Road Winter Fair on 7th December.

The Mill Road area has had winners in three of the six categories so far and now lays claim to Cambridge’s best independent music shop (Rhythm Online), best independent specialist food & drink outlet (Limoncello) and best independent coffee shop (Hot Numbers). The category for July is best independent pub and you can nominate your favourite by email, twitter or post – see Julian Huppert’s website for more information.

Beer bottlesBest independent pub is an interesting category – the vast majority of pubs are owned by larger breweries and chains; yet they are, in the main, run by a landlord and/or landlady who probably runs only that pub and who brings their own character to the place. Pubs that are part of larger breweries and chains often have certain restrictions placed on them (such as only being allowed to purchase their beer from a specific provider) but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of room for making their own unique mark in their local communities (in fact, I reckon most people would be more likely able to name the landlord/landlady of their local than which pub company it belongs to…). I’m not quite sure what definition Julian is going with for his competition (and where part-tied pubs fit in) but if it’s only pubs that are not tied to a larger chain or which are the only pub run by that tenant/owner, then that leaves just a small handful in Cambridge.

Earl of BeaconsfieldI’m going to nominate the Earl of Beaconsfield – Susie and Matt took over the pub last October and have made it into a really lovely place that not only looks after its existing regulars but is welcoming to new visitors too. There’s all sorts of regular music nights (Sunday blues jam, Monday open mic session, Tuesday acoustic jam, Thursday Irish music session and regular jazz Saturdays) and they’re all free, the back room that was previously out of bounds has now been completely transformed into a large games room, the pub now serves food and the beer garden has also had a much needed makeover. They’ve also set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for the pub, as well as recently launching a brand new website. Given all the hard work Susie and Matt have put in to the Beaccy and the great changes that have come as a result in such a short space of time (and bearing in mind the fact that they had never run a pub before!) I think they thoroughly deserve some recognition for their efforts.

Mill Road itself has lost over 60% of its public houses in the last twelve years alone, and now just two pubs remain. So there’s never been a more important time to make sure you use your local, and the sunny weather is the perfect time to try out the ones you haven’t been to for a while or visited before. Just don’t forget to nominate your favourite indie pub by 31st July (tomorrow!).

Festival comes to Mill Road…

A buskerThe Cambridge Buskers & Street Performers Festival 2013 will be taking place on the weekend of 28th-30th June. The festival, which started in 2008, sees lots of performers and musicians playing across the city and this year there’s a packed line up of performances on and around Mill Road – including outside the Earl of Beaconsfield, Urban Larder, Perfect Pizza, Hope Street Yard and The Co-operative.

Buskers & Street Performers Festival 2013The festival programme has a list of all the acts performing and the locations of each – though do check the website for updates – and talks about what a great area Mill Road is (see page 12) and even mentions this very blog! There’s lots of acts performing on all three days and on Saturday at Hope Street Yard there will also be various food stalls, including Mill Road’s own Perfect Pizza and local ice cream extraordinaire Jack’s Gelato. If you haven’t tried Jacks Gelato before then I highly recommend you do – as well as delectable classics such as chocolate and vanilla, Jack makes lots of other tempting flavours and even his own allotment rhubarb sorbet! He can be found throughout the summer at various locations around town, including Mill Road.

Gwydir Street Party poster 2013Saturday 29th June is also the day of the Gwydir Street Party – which is Victorian themed this year to mark 150 years of the street – and there will be lots of music and entertainment throughout the day including a hog roast, beer festival, circus performers, a puppet show and several stalls. So it certainly looks like the Mill Road area is the place to be for the last weekend in June!

Below is the current line-up of buskers and performers who will be around Mill Road as part of the festival.

FRIDAY 28TH JUNE
Earl of Beaconsfield:
1-2pm TJ & The Doghouse
2-3pm The Revellators Duo
8:30pm The Broadside Boys
Perfect Pizza:
1-2pm The Revellators Duo
Urban Larder:
1-2pm John Meed

SATURDAY 29th JUNE
Co-operative Mill Road:
11am-12pm The Misspent Ukes
Earl of Beaconsfield:
12-1pm The Misspent Ukes;
Further acts throughout the day TBC.
Hope Street Yard:
11-11:20am Sammy Magic
11:20-11:40 Magic Man
11:45-12:15 Sarah Louise
12:20-1pm Finkel Brothers
1:15-2pm Flaming June
2:15-3pm Tomi Komi
3:15-4:15 The Revellators Duo
4:20-5pm Music & Spies
5:10-5:50pm Hope Brothers Band
6-6:45pm Ellis & Connelly
7-8pm Broken Arrow
Perfect Pizza:
1-2pm Paul McCaffery
3-4pm Music & Spies
Urban Larder:
12-1pm Paul McCaffery

SUNDAY 30th JUNE
Co-operative Mill Road:
12-1pm Paul McCaffery
1-2pm The Times
2-3pm Cate Williams
3-4pm Ain’t Misbehavin
Earl of Beaconsfield:
1-2pm Rebecca Heyne
2-3pm Flaming June
3-4pm Gog Magog Molly
Perfect Pizza:
1-2pm Ain’t Misbehavin
2-3pm Paul McCaffery
Urban Larder:
12-1pm Rhythm & Shoes
1-2pm Paul McCaffery
2-3pm Ain’t Misbehavin’
3-4pm Graham Hazel

Things to do before the end of May

Saturday 1st June is the date of this year’s Strawberry Fair – rumoured to be the UK’s largest free one-day festival. But there’s lots to see and do before then – from art exhibitions and talks to live music and theatre – so here’s a taster of what’s coming up around Mill Road…

Tiger Blue

Tiger Blue duo

SATURDAY 25th
Landmark Seizures project Special Closing EventStation Buildings (opposite Swiss Laundry, next to Station Cycles), from 12pm. Discussion, readings + performances throughout the day, with a special party 7-9pm. Hosted by Aid & Abet.
Cancer Research Fundraiser
St Matthews Church, 12-3pm. Cakes, DVD’s, books, toys & handmade items for sale.
Tiger Blue duo – Earl of Beaconsfield, 8:30-11pm.
Last Gang In Town – the Man on the Moon, from 7:30pm. Music from: New Town Kings + Defekters + Last Gang DJ’s.

SUNDAY 26th
Blues Jam – Earl of Beaconsfield, from 8:30pm.
Surviving Strings – The Brook, 8:30pm. Acoustic duo playing hits from the 60’s through to present day.

MONDAY 27th
Open Mic Night – Earl of Beaconsfield, from 8:30pm.
Irish music session – The White Swan, 9-11pm.
Quiz night – The Six Bells, starts 9pm.

Earl of BeaconsfieldTUESDAY 28th
Acoustic Jam – Earl of Beaconsfield, from 9pm. Hosted by Johnny Wright, all welcome.
Dr Doodleys Drink & Draw – Hot numbers Café, 7:30-9:30pm. This fortnights theme is picture books and is hosted by Simon Prescott.
Quiz Night – The Dobblers, from 9pm. This weeks top prize is a rollover of £57.

THURSDAY 30th
Katharine Rose – Hot Numbers Café, 7:30-10pm. Indie/folk piano and singing.
Irish music session – Earl of Beaconsfield, from 9-11pm.
Quiz Night – The Brook, starts 9pm.
Four Farces – Mumford Theatre, 7:30pm. A selection of one-act farces presented by the European Arts Company.
All about CamLETS – CB1 Café, 7:30-9pm. Talk with Richard Robertson about Cambridge’s local exchange and trading system – CamLETS.Drink & Draw exhibition

ALL MONTH
Dr Doodley’s Drink & Draw Artists annual exhibitionHot Numbers Café, runs until 31st May. Over fifteen artists who attend Drink & Draw exhbiting their work.
Mohammed Djazmi ‘s ‘Social Commentary’ exhibition – Williams Art, until 31st May.
Jill Eastland’s ‘Our Land, Our Lives’ exhibition – The Six Bells, until 31st May.

Do check with venues/organisers for more info and updates.

Award-winning pubs

The GeldartIf you’ve been following me on Twitter recently, you may have seen me mention the Cambridge & District Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) Awards. The Awards are aimed at celebrating all that is good about our local pubs and their achievements over the last twelve months, and this year’s ceremony was held on Tuesday at The Hopbine.

The Cambridge BlueThe evening saw presentations in eleven different categories – ranging from Most Improved, Dark Ale/Mild and Cider Pub of the Year through to Community, Lifetime Achievement and of course the coveted Cambridge & District CAMRA Pub of the Year accolade. I followed the evening’s proceedings on Twitter and it was great to hear that some of our pubs in the Mill Road area were on the receiving end of the presentations – The Cambridge Blue, on Gwydir Street, won the city Locale Pub of the Year (the runner up was The Hopbine) and was also runner up in the Dark Ale/Mild Pub of the Year category (the winner was The Maypole); meanwhile The Geldart, on Ainsworth Street, scooped the runner up position in the Community pub of the Year (city) category (the winner was The Elm Tree).

A special mention must of course go to The Flying Pig on Hills Road – they won the much sought after Pub of the Year award, which I think is highly deserved. As you may be aware, The Flying Pig has been under threat given the developments going on in the station area and there has been a campaign to save it. Although winning the award has hopefully helped the campaign (a newspaper headline such as “Pub of The Year demolished to make way for development” wouldn’t go down well at all…) the fight to save it is not yet over. If you want to help the campaign and keep up to date with what’s happening then you can follow ‘Save The Flying Pig’ on facebook and Twitter.

The Earl of BeaconsfieldIt’s great that our local pubs are receiving this recognition of their achievements and hard work – running a pub is no easy task (as I know from personal experience). I love the pubs that we have here around Mill Road and they are an important part of our community – not just somewhere to meet friends for a drink, but places where people can enjoy a meal, join in various sports and activities, listen to music and even play music! They are also, on the whole, family friendly places and the emphasis these days seems to be less on the drinking and more on the socialising. In fact there’s quite a lot going on at the pubs in the Mill Road area, so I thought it might be useful to mention some of the things happening over the next week (20th – 27th April):

Saturday
Funk, Soul & Jazz with The Watertight Group – The Earl of Beaconsfield, from 9pm
Music from Skimbleshaks + Heather McVey + Lui Martino – The Six Bells, 8pm
Sunday
Blues Jam – The Earl of Beaconsfield, 9-11pm
Monday
Open Mic night – The Earl of Beaconsfield, 8:30pm
Irish music session – The White Swan, 8:30pm
Quiz night – The Six Bells, from 9pm
Tuesday
Acoustic Jam – The Earl of Beaconsfield, 8:30-11pm
Pub Quiz – The Empress, 8:30pm
Quiz Night – The Dobblers, 9pm
Tapas Tuesday – The Kingston Arms, from 6pm
Wednesday
Open Mic night – The Six Bells, 8:30pm
Jazz night with Sam Leak’s Aquarium – The Geldart (in the restaurant), 8:15-10:45pm
Steak & Wine Wednesday – The Kingston Arms, from 6pm
Knitting Group – The Six Bells, 7:30-9:30pm
Thursday
Rum Festival – The Live & Let Live, runs 25th-27th April
Pub Quiz – The Brook, 9pm
Irish music session – The Earl of Beaconsfield, 9-11pm
Curry Club – The Kingston Arms, from 6pm
Knit ‘Ting – The Empress, from 8pm
Friday
Rum Festival – The Live & Let Live, runs 25th-27th April
Saturday
Rum Festival – The Live & Let Live, runs 25th-27th April

For more information and full event details, please check with the venues. The list above doesn’t cover everything that’s going on this week – there’s plenty more and often last-minute gigs are arranged, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

Cambridge CAMRA are doing great things and it’s important that we all support our local pubs, so why not get along to at least one of the above events over the next few days 🙂

A Fair Do!

MRWF trufflesI hope everyone enjoyed Mill Road Winter Fair on Saturday. There was so much going on that I didn’t even get to see half the things I had hoped to, but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. What better way to start the day than with some foodie delights, so I decided to make some dark chocolate and dragon ginger truffles first thing in the morning. Although I am not vegan myself, I have tested various truffle recipes over the last few months and the one that tastes most delicious just happens to be vegan. They seemed to go down a treat with everyone that tried them and I had a few people ask me to make some for them to give as presents – so I will probably be spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen over the next couple of weeks!

MRWF ASh Co-opI did a tour of the very busy Food Fair at Gwydir Street car park, which had some amazing edibles. The crowds were so great that you could only move in one direction, so if you passed a stall without stopping it wasn’t easy to go back. The Afternoon Tease stall had already sold out of all three (!) chocolate and Guinness cakes by the time I arrived, but I did treat myself to one of their lovely rum cup cakes. I saw some delicious looking burgers at one of the farmshop stalls and decided that I had to have one, but then I realised that there was a very long queue indeed, so I’m afraid I gave up. I tasted lots of food at the Fair including a lovely free jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw, courtesy of ‘Joseph’ outside Mill Road Baptist church. But I have to say my favourite food of all was the chickpea curry at Lally’s News, it was really warming and spicy, and possibly the best vegetarian curry I have ever tasted – Amrik and Raj are known locally for their delicious curries, and deservedly so.

MRWF Ash Co-opThere was lots of music along Mill Road and I saw people jiving on the Broadway. At one point I could hear my friends band playing on Mill Road bridge. I heard later from others that so many people were dancing to the music on the bridge during the day that the bridge, rather worryingly, actually started to shake (eek!). There was some great music at Argyle Street Housing Co-op in the afternoon, including musicians from the Jam Band Caravan collective playing folk and reggae, and I even heard some thrash metal at one point (!).

MRWF Mulled WineMyself and Mr Mill Road decided to pop in to the Earl of Beaconsfield in the afternoon in the hope of having a nice warm cup of coffee, but when we arrived the place was packed and everyone seemed to be drinking mulled wine – which sounded like a marvellous idea, and so we ordered some without hesitating. I don’t normally drink red wine, but mulled wine is different and this one tasted so nice that I decided to go and buy the ingredients (cloves, dried ginger, a cinnamon stick and a bottle of Chilean red) on Mill Road so I could try making some at home. The resulting mulled wine was great and I shall definitely be trying this again over the next few weeks (probably quite a few times!).

MRWF ReindeerFor me though, the best part of the Fair was bumping into so many friends as well as chatting to lots of people I’d never met before; and the absolute highlight for me was getting to meet my friends’ daughter for the first time – who at just two and a half weeks old was possibly the Fair’s youngest visitor! A massive well done to everyone involved in making Mill Road Winter Fair happen, including the Committee and all the visitors that came along on the day – it’s great to live in such a diverse and inclusive area that has so many community-minded people.

Mill Road Winter Fair 2012

SnowflakeJust in case you haven’t heard, tomorrow is the most important day in the Mill Road calendar – Mill Road Winter Fair! There will be plenty to see and do up and down the length of Mill Road as well as on many of the nearby streets; and if past years are anything to go by, any sort of plan I make will soon disappear as lots of other exciting things are discovered along the way…

Chocolate & Guinness CakeOne of my favourite parts of the Fair over the years has been the compliments booth outside Lifecraft – last year I received some very kind words and was also given an inspirational scroll to keep. This year they will be opening their doors and will have a selection of artwork and goodies for sale inside, as well as a performance from the Lifecraft Singers. I’m looking forward to visiting the Afternoon Tease stall (Gwydir Street car park) with its selection of lovely cakes, including chocolate and Guinness cake – which, given my adoration of the two main ingredients, feels like it was invented just for me! Keeping with the cake theme, I’m tempted to pop along to Cutlacks, where the will be a cake decorating demonstration (I need to learn!) as well as beer and wine tasting – which should keep Mr Mill Road happy too.

Argyle Street Housing Co-op gardensThe car park at Argyle Street Housing Co-operative (ASH Co-op is on the east side of Mill Road bridge) is well known for being a hub of activity at the Fair and this year looks set to be no exception. There will be an open marquee with music from Tariq Muhammed & The Africelt Connection and Dave Crow Barr playing some punk tunes with his electric cello. There’s also music from Jam Band Caravan, who will be playing their mixture of folk-rock, roots and reggae, as well as lots of other musicians throughout the day. The Arco Iris Samba Band traditionally play each year and I am told their performance this year should be at around 1:45pm. The Mayor of Cambridge also usually pays a visit to ASH Co-op during the Fair (in fact, some of you may remember watching former MP David Howarth and former mayor Jenny Bailey pedalling away to keep the the bicycle-powered sound system going a few years back!).

Mill Road Winter Fair 2009If you want to know more about T’ai Chi then who better to advise than the Vice-President of the T’ai Chi union of Great Britain! He and others will be on hand at the Grey Heron stall at ASH Co-op to advise about this martial art known for its health and meditative benefits, as well as other health and wellbeing practices.There will also be other information stalls as well as all sorts of goodies to treat yourself with or to buy as Christmas presents. Look out for chestnuts, chocolate truffles and a stall selling homemade chutneys – including a yummy sounding combination of onion and orchard apple, which I have heard described by others as ‘Christmas in a jar’! There’s also a stall selling a range of second-hand books as well as toys and games.

Mill Road trees in winterThere are lots of other things going on at the Fair. If you’re in Romsey then look out for special offers at Balv’s Hair & Wigs near the bridge and Billy’s off licence next door; and if you need warming up in the cold weather, the Earl of Beaconsfield has music and will be happy to serve you a free cup of coffee. If you’re looking for activities for your little ones then you will find a bouncy castle, face-painting and story-telling at Romsey Mill, a puppet show at St Philips Church at 3pm and Santa himself will be appearing at the Empress pub on Thoday Street from 3-5pm. If you find yourself on the Petersfield side of the bridge then I would recommend popping along to Lally’s News, where there will be some lovely vegetarian Punjabi food, with all proceeds this year going towards children at Addenbrookes Hospital; and just a few metres away you will find Andrew Northrop’s Butchers serving some lovely warming sausages.

I could go on, but the best thing about Mill Road Winter Fair is just taking a walk along Mill Road and seeing what you discover… Hope everyone has a great Fair!